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Literature / Through the Motions

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Through the Motions is an Urban Fantasy Web Serial Novel written by Walter Williams (a.k.a. Willy Four Eyes).

It tells the story of Deanna Richardson, a young artist from a quiet suburban town called Sharonia. After visiting a nearby consignment shop to sell one of her paintings, she runs into a young witch-in-training who goes by the name "Sol" (not a Stellar Name; it's short for "Marisol"). When Sol asks for help activating a new magic wand, Deanna accepts the offer, and is eventually given the wand as a gift once they discover Deanna was accidentally "bonded" to the wand during their exchange, preventing Sol from using it. Driven by curiosity and an artist's innate thirst for inspiration, Deanna strives to learn more about her new powers and the ins and outs of magic in general.

The first chapter was posted on February 15, 2019, and can be read at the author's website, with mirrors on Royal Road, Archive of Our Own, FictionPress, and Wattpad.

The first volume of the story, covering Chapters 1-21, was finished on December 5, 2019. A second volume chronicling Deanna's attempts to manage her new hobby, her art, and her work and social lives, started in January 2020 but went on an unannounced hiatus in late February 2020 as the author's other writing project, The Ghost of Ochs, gained in popularity. On November 11, 2021, the author discontinued the story due to lack of ideas.

Tropes used in this story:

  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Lillian's last name is Silverthorne, an appropriate name for a young woman who runs her own private Wizarding School. She is very proud of her family name, and her parents would only bless her marriage when her fianceé told them he'd let her keep her last name.
  • Beginner's Luck: Deanna, who had never seen magic before meeting Sol, is able to (partially) charge Sol's magic wand by doing her own version of the magic dance. Subverted in that neither of the girls was aware at the time that they had to touch the wand's Power Crystal to unlock its potential.
  • De-Power Zone: Areas protected by the "SCRB" (Spell Containment and Reduction Boundary) system, such as the store where Deanna works and the magic store where she bought Sol's wand, prevent anyone within the boundary from using magic. The system also nullifies any outside enchantments.
  • Distinguishing Mark: Magic users can easily be spotted by strange markings on their hands and/or fingers called "enchanter's signs", which are obtained by making direct contact with a source of magical power.
  • Exact Words: As the final test in her entrance exam, Deanna is asked to knock down all of the targets in a room with one spell. With no Area of Effect spells in her repertoire, Deanna resorts to using her "Lift" spell on one of the training dummies and smashes it into all of the other targets. It makes one hell of a mess, but it gets the job done.
  • Functional Magic: Of the "device magic" variety. Magic users require some kind of tool (such as a Magic Wand) to cast spells.
  • Gargle Blaster: Lydia, Sol's mother, serves the Richardsons a drink called a "wyvern", whose Secret Ingredient is a pinch of "dragon's breath" powder. The resulting drink is so spicy that Lydia holds a silent countdown for when smoke literally starts coming out of everyone's nostrils. Deanna, who doesn't drink as often as her parents, gets the worst of it and has to shuffle off to the bathroom to avoid throwing up her drink in front of everyone.
  • Look Behind You: Zig-Zagged - a customer (whom Deanna initially only refers to as "Jacket Guy") tries to distract her by pointing out the window behind them. She doesn't fall for it, but her co-worker does, only to quickly turn around and catch Jacket Guy try to steal gum. It isn't until her co-worker keeps an eye on Jacket Guy that Deanna turns around to look and find out that there really was something behind her - the blue-cloaked woman she waited on earlier, walking through the rain without an umbrella, apparently having cast a spell to keep herself dry.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: A magic wand can only be used by the first person to touch its crystal. In anyone else's hands, it simply won't work at all.
  • Magic Dance: Sol is told that her newly-bought wand requires her to dance outdoors to "draw upon the power of the earth" to charge its magical energy. It doesn't work until she accidentally breaks the seal on the wand when she hands it to Deanna, allowing her to partially recharge it by doing her own version of the dance.
  • Magic Wand: The primary tool of a witch or wizard.
  • Magical Gesture: Magic spells are cast by drawing simple, but specific, motions in the air with a magic wand and thrusting or flicking it toward the target.
  • No Name Given: In Chapter 6, Deanna meets two peculiar customers at work she hasn't been formally introduced to yet. She refers to them as "Jacket Guy" and "Blue Cloak Lady" for their distinguishing clothing. They are given names in later chapters: "Jacket Guy" is called Stefan, and "Blue Cloak Lady"'s real name is Lillian.
  • Projectile Spell: Discussed in Chapter 4. Sol tells Deanna that she tried casting a "magic missile" spell on a pillow to test out her wand, stating that it's something "every good witch should know". Deanna suggests trying something less dangerous since they're in a public space.
  • Power Glows: Deanna's enchanter's sign glows brighter when it's in close proximity to her wand, and grows dimmer when she's not holding it.
  • A Rare Sentence: When Dr. Keller asks Deanna if she noticed any strange markings on her hand after her accident with the doorknob, she wonders how he can be so calm when asking such a weird question.
  • Retail Therapy: A day after having a nightmare about auditioning for Lillian's Wizarding School and visiting Sol's apartment for the first time, Deanna's parents take her out to the mall to buy gifts to present to Sol and her mother. Deanna keeps the details of her nightmare a secret from everyone, but is much more relaxed afterward.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Chapter 1's title, "The Witch of Emerson Park", is a dual reference to The Witches of Eastwick and "The Wizard of Menlo Park" (the nickname of famed inventor Thomas Edison).
    • Chapter 12's title, "Page 15 Girl", was inspired by the "Page 3 girls" in The Sun and similar tabloids. The story in the chapter, however, is a short interview devoid of fanservice of any kind.
  • Spell Book: Sharonia's local magic shop, the Blank Scroll, sells spellbooks for mages of all levels. Sol complains to Deanna about them being sold separately from the magic wands, as she thinks that having one would have helped her unlock her powers earlier. Before Sol got hers, she cribbed notes for some practice spells from the Internet.
  • Title Drop: When Deanna is asked how she successfully manages to pull off the "Lift" spell, she says:
    "All I did was think of the spell in my head, go through the motions you drew on the paper, and that's when the crystal lit up."
  • Wizarding School: Lillian runs one, and invites Deanna and Sol to join. Only Deanna takes her up on the offer, as Sol doesn't think she can afford to attend.